Malaysians have come a long way since the nation got its independence from the British in 1957. Albeit Malaysia is a rather young country, a host of noteworthy luminaries have arisen in the span of 58 years – from entertainers to sportsmen and even politicians. Not only have they inspired many, they have also united the Malaysian people from all walks of life and creed and found their permanent places in the hearts and minds of Malaysians. In conjunction with Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day 2015, Top 10 Malaysia shares its list of the nation’s most venerated and unforgettable personalities of all time (presented in no particular order).
Tan Sri P.Ramlee
Whenever the name, P. Ramlee, comes to mind, one cannot help but recall many of his on-screen antics from the Bujang Lapok series to his last film Laksamana Do Re Mi. As an actor, director, singer, composer, and storyteller, the late legend spoke volumes through his mesmerising songs, poignant voice and his acting mastery. Without a doubt,he has left a great legacy for all Malaysians, one that is heart-warmingly unique and memorable in many ways.
Dato’ Mokhtar Dahari
Prominently known as SuperMokh, Dato’ Mokhtar Dahari was indeed one of the best footballers Asia has come to acknowledge. The lethal striker made his mark in the football scene of the 70s by defeating Asian top guns in the game like Thailand and South Korea – earning Malaysia several medals including SEA Games gold medals in 1977 and 1979. Recognized for his intricate skills and agility, he scored a whopping 177 goals throughout his career.
Datuk “Punch” Gunalan Panchacharan
His dexterity with a badminton racquet is hitherto well-respected and cherished by all Malaysians– we are talking about Punch Gunalan, Malaysia’s badminton star way before Lee Chong Wei’s time. Punch Gunalan, whose birth name is Gunalan Panchacharan, took over the world stage in the 1970s for both singles and doubles. The consummate right-handed had bagged accolades not only at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games but also in big leagues like the All-England, Canadian, Danish and US Open.
Abdul Samad bin Mohamed Said
A. Samad Said is one of the most sought-after personalities in the Malaysian literature world. With over 70 titles and numerous essays and poems such as Salina, Sungai Mengalir Les and Dirgahayu Dr. Mahathir under his belt, the National Laureate shows no signs of slowing down in his current role in helping shape Malaysia’s political landscape. Even with his prominent status, Pak Samad, as he is fondly known, remains down-to-earth and humble.
Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong
Lim Goh Tong of Genting fame who hailed from Anxi, China took a leap of faith when he moved to Malaya in 1937. He was 19, impecunious and only had his primary education in hand, yet fear and failure was never in his vocabulary. His gallant, risk-taking abilities landed him amongst the world’s most successful Asian entrepreneurs. From a 38-room hotel atop an isolated hilltop – Genting Highlands,the late billionaire expanded his business empire to resorts, cruise ships, plantations, power generation and many others.
Dato’ Mohammad Nor Khalid
It is no surprise that most people are more familiar with Lat as the cartoon character rather than the cartoonist himself. Before The Kampung Boy, Keluarga Si Mamat and his other iconic titles rose to fame, Dato’ Mohammad Nor Khalid or Lat, started off as a reporter and later became an editorial cartoonist for Berita Mingguan and New Straits Times. His award-winning, light-hearted cartoon strips illustrated the typical Malaysian life from everyday scenes to politics and have endeared him to the people – giving him a celebrity status.
Dato’ Sudirman bin Haji Arshad
Dubbed as the Malaysian Elvis Presley, Sudirman shot to superstardom when he was crowned Bintang RTM in 1976. Since then, he composed over 70 hit tracks including Balik Kampung, Chow Kit and Tanggal 31. What won the hearts of thousands was his love and compassion towards people of different cultures and backgrounds. Sudirman’s Chow Kit Road concert in 1985 is said to be one of Kuala Lumpur’s most memorable concerts which drew a mammoth crowd of some 100,000.
Dato’ Rahim Razali
Dato’ Rahim Razali was the man who would keep one on the edge of one’s seat. His sports commentaries often range from anticipation and seriousness to, of course, joy. His career as Malaysia’s acclaimed sports commentator began in 1965 and has spanned over 50 years now. The veteran sports pundit has also ventured into the film industry as an actor, director and producer. He has won recognitions for being the best actor and best writer at the Festival Filem Malaysia in 1981 and has represented Malaysia in several international film festivals.
Dato’ Soh Chin Aun
Unlike most sporting individuals at the age of 21, Soh Chin Aun was already at the top of his game, football. His impeccable defending aptitude and flair for counter attacks landed him in the competing team of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, and later on as captain of the Malaysian National team. In the Malaysian football scene, he was a force to be reckoned with – making over 250 appearances representing Malaysia throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In a nutshell, he showed who the boss was and got himself to be known as the ‘Tauke’.
Tunku Abdul Rahman
Tunku Abdul Rahman is known as Malaysia’s Father of Independence. Before pursuing politics in 1951, the late Tunku was actively involved in the Kedah state civil service and was later appointed a deputy public prosecutor in 1949. He was instrumental in securing Malaysia’s (known as Malaya then) independence from the British and the nation of Malaysia was born on August 31, 1957. He had served as Malaysia’s first Prime Minister for 13 years and today, he is very well remembered by the people of Malaysia with buildings, monuments, and institutes named after him.